Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An Interesting Amateur Radio QSO

USS Douglas H. Fox DD779 
Image contributed by Howard Longstreth to the archive at 

On May 14th I met Andy KB3IFK on 40 meters CW.  Andy is retired and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  I was excited to learn as I decoded the beeps in my headphones that Andy was once a Radioman in the US Navy.  I am always amazed and honored at the chance to work these professional radio operators on the amateur bands.   
Andy enlisted in the Navy in 1961 and spent six months in "Radioman A" school where he learned Morse Code and RTTY (radio teletype).  With training complete he began his career aboard the Destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox.  The Fox had recently been outfitted with the days latest anti-submarine warfare equipment.  After an honorable discharge in 1965 Andy settled into civillian life and never gave ham radio a thought as he had morse code ringing in his ears for years after leaving the service.  He became a licensed radio amateur in 2002.
Being the ever curious history buff I looked up Andy's ship online and discovered some very interesting history.  The Fox was already 15 years old when Andy went aboard.  Commissioned in 1944 the Douglas H. Fox first saw action in May 1945 during the final campaign of the Pacific war.  During the Battle of Okinawa she successfully thwarted a number of kamikaze attacks but not without extensive damage and the loss of ten brave crewmen. 
During 29 years of dutiful service The Fox saw action in three wars, WW2, Korea and Viet Nam.  The Douglas H. Fox was decommissioned in 1973.

It was a unique and rewarding experience to use ham radio to communicate with someone who served as a radio operator aboard this destroyer.  Particularly cool to use Morse Code I might add.
Thanks Andy.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know the Fox had actually served in Vietnam. Just a few days out of Norfolk, in 1968, there was a horrible "boiler room explosion" which killed three sailors and injured many more. It did extensive damage to the ship.

    We were sailing with her and the "Wilson" when it happened. We steamed flank speed, with the dead and injured to a Naval Hospital in Charleston, SC. Her decommissioning in '73 would be an explanation of those events.

    I was a Boatswains Mate on the USS Corry at that time. There's nothing more traumatic than a fire on a ship. You either put it out, or you die.

    I still feel the suffering of those unfortunate sailors on the Fox. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it.